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The 6th season of the WPT came to an end with a Hollywood-like twist that will not be forgotten any time soon. The final table of season six displayed all the characteristics of a well scripted movie; an active hero fighting to regain control over his surroundings, his relentless efforts to overcome hardships on the way to a happy end, and finally - the twist and surprise ending. This should come to us as no surprise, seeing how the WPT was originally started by television producer Steven Lipscomb, whose goal was to capture poker action in a televised environment. With a final table like this one, that goal was definitely accomplished.
The hero of the final table, surprisingly enough, was not the winner of the tournament, but rather Danish pro Gus Hansen, who came in second place. The Great Dane is a dream-come-true for any televised final table. Hansen is world known for his extremely loose and aggressive play, and is a true entertainer as far as poker players go. But after he took out four finalists single-handedly, Hansen lost the heads-up match to David Chiu, the Chinese-born American poker professional. Despite Hansen's 5-to-1 chip lead at the beginning of heads-up play, Chiu overcame the odds to become WPT champion. He walked home with US$3,389,140 in prize money.
The Danish pro came into the final table with a clear chip lead of $8.57 million in chips. Chiu reached the final table in second place, with $6.05 million. In third place was Cory Carroll, the online-professional known to many by his username “UGOTPZD”. He had $6.67 million in chips. Former NFL kicker John Roveto had $2.72 million, and Tommy Le was fifth, with $1.95 million. Jeff King closed the top six with $1.3 million in chips.
Hansen was favored for three main reasons – his chip lead, his popularity and his impressive WPT record (he has won 3 previous titles). The way it was looking all night, Hansen was supposed to finish on top again. It didn’t seem as if anyone would give him a real fight.
Hansen didn’t play his first four hands, but after that he was back to himself. He came back with all his aggressiveness, playing 16 out of the next 19 hands. All he needed was those 23 hands to knock out 4 of his five opponents, but all that time Chiu sat quietly and let Hansen do the dirty work.
First to go was Jeff King, who went all in with Ac Qc against Hansen’s 10s 9s. A 10 on the river ended King’s night, and gave Hansen a bigger lead. One hand later, Tommy Lee lost with a set of fives after Hansen flopped a set of tens.
One of the most dramatic moments of the night came a few hands later, when respected online pro Cory Carroll made the call of his life – and a correct one – only to be eliminated on the river. Hansen raised from late position to 480,000, Carroll re-raised from the big blind to 1.65 million, and Hansen called. The flop was Qc Jd 6d. Carroll checked, and Hansen paused to think for about two minutes before moving all in. With so much at stake, Carroll also took a few long minutes to study the situation before he decided to call. Carroll turned over Ad Js – good for second pair. Hansen showed 7d 5d – he was drawing for a diamond flush.
Carroll definitely made the right call, seeing as he was a 2:1 favorite with his pair of Jacks. But the anticipated river card was the 3 of diamonds, giving Hansen his flush, and sending Carroll home in fourth place.
Only six hands later, Hansen got lucky again, this time against John Roveto and his pair of kings. Hansen hit a straight draw on the river, and the former NFL kicker was eliminated in third place, taking home US$923,355. Not bad at all.
And all this time, David Chiu was far from the action. This turned out to be a very smart tactic, given Hansen’s aggressiveness. Chiu was simply letting other players battle each-other displaying perfect tournament tactics. But once it was down to only Hansen and himself, Chiu switched gear and gave a heads-up performance that will go down in poker history. It took Chiu 57 hands of patient play to beat Hansen’s aggressiveness. Chiu went all-in only once, with a pair of fives. He beat Hansen’s pocket deuces, doubled up and was never in danger of elimination again.
By the final hand, Hansen hadn’t only lost the chip lead – he also seemed to have lost his calm. Hansen raised pre-flop to $750,000 and Chiu called. After the flop - Ac Tc 8s - Chiu checked to Hansen, who bet $900,000. Chiu called again. The turn was 5s. This time, it was Chiu’s turn to bet - $1.2 million. Hansen decided to move all-in with his remaining $8.675 million more.
Chiu liked his odds so much, that at this stage he stood and faced the crowd. "I think this is it, boys," he said to his supporters in the crowd. He called and showed As 9s. Hansen revealed Ts 8h – good for a two pair, which put him ahead of Chiu’s top-pair. But Chiu had many outs – with a pair of aces and the nut spade flush draw, he would win with an ace, nine, five or any spade. This time, Hansen’s two pair was a 64-to-36 favorite, but the same river card that helped Hansen all night turned against him with the final hand.
The river card was Ah, and that was it for Hansen! David Chiu, with an amazing performance, became WPT Season 6 Champion!
Here are the payouts from the final table (in US dollars):
1. David Chiu - $3,389,140
2. Gus Hansen - $1,714,800
3. John Roveto - $923,355
4. Cory Carroll - $593,645
5. Tommy Le - $395,725
6. Jeff King - $263,815